It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of salad, it was the age unkempt mop-heads, it was was the epoch of mullets, it was the epoch of receding hair lines, it was the season of volume, it was the season of thinness, it was the spring of hockey hair, it was the winter of balding.
Through it all, Jaromir Jagr stood proudly.
Much has been said of Jaromir Jagr since he was waived by the Calgary Flames in late January, spelling an end to the legendary Czech winger’s NHL career. Much has been said about his legacy, the impact he has had on the league, and the unprecedented nature of his accomplishments.
Unfortunately, Jagr’s hair has not gotten its proper send off. Now I know, just because Jagr is returning to the Czech Republic to finish his career does not mean he has to shave his hair. However, there’s no doubt that for those of us in North America, Jagr’s glorious mane will no longer be the figure in our lives that it used to be. No longer can we tune in to the night’s game just to get a peak of his curly locks flowing out of the back of his bucket. No longer can we stare in awe as he foregoes his helmet during warmups to give the world a 360 degree view of his do.
Though no words can fill the hole that has been left, those of us to whom Jagr’s hair played a significant role in our lives need some closure. I’d like to write a few words to provide just a little bit of this closure.
Jagr came to North America during a time when hair wasn’t sure what it was. The big hair of the 1980’s was giving way to the unruly grunge styles of the 1990’s. These two looks were seemingly at odds with one another. Alternative grunge looks were an antithesis to the big mainstream party hair that had been popularized in the previous decade. With these two ships passing in the night, many were frozen and unsure what to do with the soft follicles that sat atop their head.
And then there was Jagr.
Whatever molds that had developed, whatever sides people were supposed to choose, Jagr broke them all and rose above the rest of the pack. Sure, the mullet was not a new look. The style gained a cult following among many teenagers and young adults throughout the 1980’s. Regardless, in a time where many did not know who they were, let alone how to project who they were onto their hairstyles, Jagr knew exactly who he was. Jagr was special, electrifying, exciting, unique, and he knew that with his God-given attributes, the mullet would be the best way to express this.
Yet Jagr did not stop once he simply found himself. No, he constantly sought to perfect what he had, tweaking and adapting without hesitation whenever he found areas where he had not reached his full potential. I chronicled these changes in my 2,500 word magnum opus on the development of Jagr’s hair throughout his career. Jagr’s hair was like the evolution of the natural world into a beautiful realm where life could thrive, yet Jagr himself acted as an intelligent designer, picking and choosing necessary adaptations instead of waiting for them to develop through trial and error.
Like Jagr himself, his hair never faded, never slunk back to quietly live out its days in a receding hairline. During the second half of his career, the mullet did indeed have periods of absence, yet it always returned in force. Even in the darkest of times, when it seemed like the clock had struck midnight and the golden carriage that was Jagr’s flow had reverted to a modestly trimmed pumpkin, the mullet scrapped and clawed and found its way back atop the magnificent Czech’s head.
And now it is has left us, returned to Europe where we in North America will be stuck with only passing glimpses of it. For the most part, we will see Jagr’s hair only when we close our eyes at night and reminisce about brighter days.
Yet Jagr’s hair is not gone. Its legacy will echo through eternity and continue to impact our lives. When a high schooler from Minnesota becomes a national icon after he removes his helmet to reveal a flowing mullet, we will see Jaromir Jagr. When a playoff hero shaves racing stripes into the side of his head to direct our attention to the party in the back, we will see Jaromir Jagr. Whenever we are moved, captivated, and inspired by the locks of our generation’s icons, we will see Jaromir Jagr. Yes, until the end of days, we will see Jaromir Jagr and the hair the captivated a continent.